More than 150 students attended the FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture lecture presented on Oct. 17 in Reeve Memorial Union to hear about consent and the movement that speakers Rebecca Nagle and Hannah Brancato have started across the country.
FORCE was sponsored by the Women’s Advocacy Council of UW Oshkosh and co-sponsored by the Women’s Center, Campus Awareness for Relationship Education, Social Justice Club, College Democrats and Rainbow Alliance for Helping Others Perceive Equality.
Geneva Murray, director of the Women’s Center and one of the co-advisers of the Women’s Advocacy Council, explained FORCE as an art-collective, feminist movement that talks about rape culture and what people can do to upset it.
According to Hannah Brancato, one of the founders of the FORCE movement, rape culture is the assumption of what rape is.
“There are a lot of mythologies in our culture about women’s bodies, about what rape should be defined by, about different definitions of what rape is,” Brancato said. “It’s stuff that’s structurally embedded in our society legally, but is also things we see every day, advertisements, television, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable.”
FORCE has done a lot across the country to bring awareness to what rape culture is. Nagle, another founder of FORCE, and Brancato explained they sewed together blankets with people’s stories on them and laid them out in front of the Baltimore Train Station. During the lecture, they also explained how they hacked the Victoria’s Secret website to portray underwear that advocated consent.
“Around the time of their fashion show last year, we pretended they were releasing a line of consent-themed underwear,” Brancato said. “They actually, on this website we made pretending to be Victoria’s Secret, apologized for their pastiles that were promoting rape culture.”
The lecture also included a healthy workshop with activities including students explaining what they think consent is, what rape culture is and when it will stop. According to Murray, students were also able to make their own underwear with a consent-themed slogan on them. Murray believed this is good for the campus.
“We hope that this is an opportunity for our students to be inspired by a national movement, to start talking about what consent and healthy relationships look like here at Oshkosh,” Murray said. “We certainly have had the recently attempted assaults. It’s one thing to talk about safety and SafeWalks and we certainly encourage that, but we also have to be doing more by talking about a culture that allows for it to end in the first place.”
MaryKathyrine Tran, director for the Women’s Advocacy Council, felt this lecture was a big deal for the WAC, as well as for promoting what rape culture is all about.
“We’re hoping with the open dialogue that people can actually voice ways that they want to make a difference and to use activism to change the world to make it a better place,” Tran said.
Susan Rensing, assistant professor in the women’s and gender study program and the history department and co-adviser for the Women’s Advocacy Council, felt that with the recent attempted assaults on campus, it was good timing for campus to have FORCE and have the conversation about consent.
“One of the things that WAC was really aware of was that a lot of the TitanAlerts that came out about the assaults were sort of victim blaming, hear all the things that women should do to avoid getting raped, they should stay at home, they should not get drunk, they should only walk in well-lit paths and that’s a rape culture,” Rensing stated. “I don’t think that UW Oshkosh means to be sending that message but I think more people need to know how to talk about it differently.”